Saturday, February 13, 2021

Galmadrua - Dar Azo parte II (February 13, 2021)


1. Sexta 11:14
2. Sétima 09:47
3. Oitava 18:15
4. Nona 05:36

Paulo Galão - Tenor saxofone
João Madeira - Double bass
Mário Rua - Drums
Record and mastering by João Madeira - Lisbon, Portugal

Galmadrua - Dar Azo parte I (February 13, 2021)

Mário Rua, drummer, was born on November 30, 1978 in Lisbon. Studied jazz and improvised music in Paris at the IACP. He attended the Sarceles jazz conservatory. He back to Lisbon in 2004. He has played and recorded with George Haslam, in two albums, “Maresia” (SLAMCD331 ) and “Ajuda” (SLAMCD 5100). He follows double bassist João Madeira in several projects in Lisbon, of which “Ajuda” is one.


1. Primeira 09:09
2. Segunda 11:30
3. Terceira 13:49
4. Quarta 05:31
5. Quinta 04:58

Paulo Galão - Tenor saxofone
João Madeira - Double bass
Mário Rua - Drums
Record and mastering by João Madeira - Lisbon, Portugal

Roine Sangenberg - Impulses (February 13, 2021)

Acting as a Multi-musician and composer since the 70's. Owner & Sound Engineer at Movement Studios. Played with lots of bands on tour around the Scandinavian of Jazz, folk & Experimental music. Written for different theaters and Film. Recorded lots of own CDs with many guest musicians. "I try to make my music like a big journey around the world with a lot of influences and instruments".


1. On my porch at night 04:55
2. Bird Phoenix rising 04:05
3. Space traveler 07:18
4. Parachute 07:02
5. Mojave desert 07:52
6. Bliss 08:02
7. Return home 06:48
8. A split second 05:25
9. One more tango for Claude 06:05
10. Yoga 07:07
11. Double Venus 13:10

Roine Sangenberg - El & ak basses, Keyboards, Synthts, Samplers, String instruments, Drums & percussions, sounds on all tracks
Lennart Hjalmarsson - El guitar on track 9
Patrick Ohlson/Öhlander - El guitar & Keyboards on track 10
Haakon Graf - all Keyboards on track 2
Rolf Jönsson - Synth programming on track 3

Logan Richardson - Afrofuturism (Whirlwind Recordings)

Alto saxophonist, composer and producer Logan Richardson’s career has been marked by his deep engagement with the Black American improvised music tradition as much as by his fearlessly open-minded embrace of the contemporary sounds of the global diaspora and his keen gaze towards the future. His latest release AfroFuturism (his fifth solo album) synthesises all those elements together into a stunningly audacious statement that is epic in its scope while providing a deep, intimately personal view into its creator’s inner life. The core of the album is a series of towering alt-rock/trap/wonky beat soundscapes created Logan’s extensive range of keyboards, synthesizers and programming along with the latest iteration of his Blues People band - Igor Osypov on guitar and Peter Schlamb on vibes and keys, with Dominique Sanders on bass and sharing production duties, and the thunderously virtuosic drumming of Ryan J. Lee and Corey Fonville rounding out the rhythm team.

Logan intersperses these with an array of diverse sonic interludes, scraps of found audio, unexpected, limpid pools of introspective strings performed by Ezgi Karakus and quiet glades of hushed balladry from long-time collaborator, vocalist Laura Taglialatela. Over all, his unmistakable keening voice on alto sax provides the constant narrative thread. “I was trying to get back deeper to the core of my artistic voice: using fresh production processes to mix in my interconnected influences and all the sounds I hear, while trying to find a sense of roots.”

The album starts with the voice of Stefon Harris introducing the epic ‘The Birth Of Us’ - a fully through-composed piece for the whole band -“Frank Zappa, Queen, Brian Wilson and Radiohead meets Schoenberg in a sci-fi 80s lounge,” laughs Logan. ‘Awaken’ (from a poem by Logan’s mother) and ‘Sunrays’ (with Laura Tagliatela and Corey Fonville) explore different voice and textual combinations to create enchanting oases of sound: "I was trying to tell a story - a bit about me, but then about us all." ‘For Alto’ is a nod to fellow altoist Anthony Braxton, while ‘Light’ is a ballad featuring Logan duetting with himself - "I’m addicted to ballads - they’re one of the most exposing things," he confesses. ‘Trap’ is just that - Logan’s interpretation of the contemporary Southern-US sound.

A field recording of his great-grandma singing introduces ‘Farewell, Goodbye’ - a vocal elegy, sung by Taglialatela, for the late lamented McCoy Tyner. ‘Black Wall Street’ introduces a fresh, unexpected twist via the lush strings of cellist Ezgi Karakus combining with Logan’s sax to create an oasis of acoustic sound, but the underlying message is sombre, remembering the Tulsa Race Riots of 1921. There’s a burst of found audio narration from Busta Rhymes before the final trio of tunes: the Blues People band return for the muscular ‘Round Up’ a trenchant musical commentary on by the police behaviour during contemporary American protests, Logan and Laura combine with an alternately skittering and lush electronica for ‘According To You’, and then the journey ends with the gospel inspired uplift of ‘Praise You’ - "A song for God, for the earth, the rain, being thankful for the totality."

Logan summarizes: "I always feel strongly about all my projects, but this one was so fluid in the way we produced it and the way the different voices came together. It feels like something truly special." As one of today's most singular voices in contemporary music, with AfroFuturism Richardson delivers not only a hugely impressive statement, but one with a direct and urgent message for the future that is rooted in his own and the larger contemporary Black American state of affairs, while reminding us of his musical unpredictability. One can only imagine what he'll do next.

1. Say My Name
2. The Birth of Us
3. Awaken
4. Sunrays
5. For Alt
6. Light
7. Trap
8. Grandma
9. Farewell, Goodbye
10. Black Wallstreet
11. Photocopy
12. Round Up
13. According to You
14. Praise Song
15. I'm Not Bad, I'm Just Drawn That Way **BONUS TRACK CD/LP ONLY**

Logan Richardson - alto saxophone, piano, keyboards, synths
Igor Osypov - electric and acoustic guitars
Peter Schlamb - vibraphone, keyboards, key bass,
Dominique Sanders - bass, key bass, production
Ryan J. Lee - drums, bass
Corey Fonville - drums
Laura Taglialatela - vocals
Ezgi Karakus - strings

Tony Tixier - I Am Human (Whirlwind Recordings)

In response to a world struggling with disruption and discord, Tony Tixier has instinctively turned towards his music as a way to re-establish the sundered connections of everyday existence. I Am Human, his latest limited edition release, was created when he returned from a sell-out US tour to find himself locked down in his Paris apartment. An escape route appeared out of a happy combination of chances: a loan of a new piano from Yamaha and an encounter with a neighbour, David Freiss, who turned out to be an expert sound engineer. Tixier conceived a plan to spontaneously record a series of pieces, all in one take, and then send them out across the world to a chosen band of his closest musical accomplices - Scott Tixier, Hermon Mehari, Ben Leifer, Logan Richardson and Adrien Soleiman - musicians with whom he felt so closely in tune that the enforced separation of time and space could be overcome - and invited them to overdub a response to create a series of virtual duet recordings “Each track is dedicated to a friend, someone I feel close to - I sent them the track in the morning, and by the afternoon I had the track back with their parts.”

‘Someone To Watch Over Me’ features Scott Tixier, Tony’s brother and also his twin, playing violin on the tune made famous by Billie Holiday - the level of empathy is otherworldly. “As humans, we all need a special person to watch over us: for me, this is my twin brother, my best friend.” Each track is dedicated to a friend and selected to talk about a different aspect of human emotion: ‘But Beautiful’ was sent to trumpeter Hermon Mehari as the message in the song sat naturally with his optimistic personality, ‘Like Someone In Love’ went all the way to Kansas City and love-struck bassist Ben Leifer and ‘You Know I Care’ elicited a rare, deeply committed performance on tenor sax from Adrien Soleiman. Tony contacted his longtime bandmate Logan Richardson, recalling an original tune over a well-loved sequence that they used to play: ‘When They Happen’ is the spontaneous result, developing into a thrillingly free flowing outro – “Logan is always so creative - like a visionary! We’re all a bunch of crazy guys and we just played what we felt at that moment.”.

Each side of the vinyl release is opened with a performance of an original solo piece by Tixier, both recorded back to back. ‘Leaking Life’ is a meditation on the passing of time and a call to action to make the most of every day. ‘Humain’ is an expression of his own identity “A presentation of myself - I don’t see myself as mixed race - I am 100% black, 100% white, 100% human.”

Tixier has travelled the world with the likes of Christian Scott and Keyon Harrold and performed for audiences across four continents, but this is his most personal, direct work to date. Reaching out across the world, sustained by a network of friends, he has delivered a statement for our times that transcends the limitations of remote recording with the sheer force of its emotional connection.

I am breathing and I feel.
I am an individual with my own set of eyes, my own pair of ears.
With these singularities I am (some)one.
A human being among all.
The addition of each soul breathing around the world is the full name of beauty.
We are all connected,
Stay aware...
- TONY TIXIER

1. Humain (Preview Only)
2. Someone To Watch Over Me
3. But Beautiful
4. Like Someone In Love
5. You Know I Care
6. Leaking Life
7. When They Happen

Tony Tixier - piano
Scott Tixier - violin
Hermon Mehari - trumpet
Ben Leifer - double bass
Logan Richardson - alto saxophone
Adrien Soleiman - tenor saxophone

Arthur Hnatek Trio - Static (Whirlwind Recordings)

Zurich based musician Arthur Hnatek is one of a new breed of players who see their music as a continuum stretching between genres, always thinking in terms of links rather than boundaries, possibilities rather than limits.

His time spent playing drums with similarly adventurous and unclassifiable artists Tigran Hamasyan and Shai Maestro opened his ears to the possibilities of rhythmic variation: his immersion in electronic music production and the motorik tradition of Jaki Liebzeit alerted him the possibilities of repetition. Now, with Static, he presents his first trio record: joined by his equally fearless bandmates Fabien Iannone on bass and Francesco Geminiani on tenor sax, this is music created by a classic jazz line-up and steeped in improvisational facility, yet simultaneously utterly unlike anything in the standard jazz tradition.

The bulk of the album was written by Hnatek, paying close attention to the details and textures, and drawing a range of different sounds from the drum kit: ’I like the idea that you can have very complicated rhythms, but played in a repetitive way that sounds natural, and where the binaries of ‘written’ and ‘improvised’ aren’t too clear’. ‘Monotonous’ features the thick, punchy tones of Iannone’s bass, like mountain peaks rising through clouds of ambient electronics, as the kit clatters and Geminiani’s saxophone soars overhead. ’27’ marries plangent bass double-stops with synthesised textures and enigmatic saxophone statements from Geminiani - “He’s a great jazz player, and also a great software programmer and coder - he manipulates the electronics in real time - a rare combination!” - who also contributes the percussive, urgent composition ‘Brew’. ‘MIDI Sans Frontières’ is a ballad from an unusual source: written by Tom Jenkinson aka Squarepusher as a post-Brexit lament.

‘Nine B’ is a maze of multi-metric complexity with all three players combining into a single many faceted gem, hard and glittering. ‘In Three’ foregrounds Hnatek’s studio creativity, using complex microphone and triggering techniques to capture an array of industrial sounds from the kit under squalling, electronically morphing saxophone. Title track ‘Static’ is a simple two-bar melody that provides a pool of limpid stillness and was almost completely improvised in the studio. ‘Cinque’ is another composition by Geminiani: “I love that he could write such a beautiful melody over such complex drum patterns! This one was fun to play.”

Alongside the written tracks, the trio created a wealth of spontaneous improvised music in the studio, and Hnatek has hidden snippets of these soundscapes into parts of the album for the listener to discover. ‘The End’ is a brief extract to close the session.

This is a unique record, at once spacious and complex, full of light and shade, elusive but direct. “To me, the process of making this record was dictated by the jazz tradition of improvisation, and even though it’s inspired by the sounds of minimal electronic music, it still feels to me very much like a jazz record: we improvise with rhythmical structures and texture as much as notes and chords. I’m really proud of this record.”

1. Monotonous 07:53
2. 27 05:26
3. Brew 08:21
4. MIDI Sans Frontières 04:51
5. Nine B 07:45
6. In Three 04:40
7. Static 06:00
8. Cinque 03:08
9. The End 00:47

Arthur Hnatek - drums
Francesco Geminiani - tenor saxophone
Fabien Iannone - double bass

Brotherly - Analects (Whirlwind Recordings)

Building a bridge between jazz and experimental dance music, Brotherly were one of the most creative bands to emerge from Britain in the mid 2000s. Vocalist-pianist Anna Stubbs and multi-instrumentalist Rob Mullarkey studied jazz at the Leeds College of Music and Guildhall School of Music, and then became immersed in London’s club culture, particularly the broken beat scene that grew around nights such as Co-Op. Brotherly’s 2005 debut single ‘Put It Out’ reflected that influence, and in 2007 the duo released a full length album, 'One Sweet Life', followed in 2010 by 'Find First Light', and a collection of their standout tracks is now issued for the first time on limited edition vinyl (and CD/DL) as Analects.

It has one previously unreleased track, ‘The Code’, and three reworked tracks with new guests Donny McCaslin, Kaidi Tatham and Jason Rebello. The stellar cast list for the material written by Anna and Rob makes it clear that the duo has always had an interest in many rather than one school. Keyboardist Tatham and vocalist Eska were key fixtures in broken beat, pianist Rebello has been a major name in British jazz since the mid ‘80s, rapper Ty, who smartly sidestepped lyrical and musical cliché, was a fearless trailblazer of UK hip-hop, and McCaslin is a versatile, dynamic American saxophonist known for his work with Maria Schneider and David Bowie among others.

At the heart of Analects is Anna and Rob’s fine compositions and production. The vocabulary they developed had all the intricacy one would expect of musicians with a background in improvisation, but they were still mindful of how a song could be transformed by the kind of outré sequencing, engineering and mixing that had raised the temperature at clubs.

Brotherly created musically ambitious work that was also relevant to the club culture of the day, acknowledging the advent of many producer-driven movements from which improvising artists could learn. ‘System’, with its bulldozing bassline, sprightly theme and ethereal flute, brilliantly sets out their stall while the combination of an African-slanted 6/8 pulse and Kaidi Tatham’s piping keys make ‘Raindown’ compellingly hypnotic. Jason Rebello’s graceful acoustic piano brings a light-as-a-feather sensitivity to ‘World In A World’ while the heavy duty funky strut of ‘Skin Deep’ is a teasing backdrop for commentary on vain superficiality, a topical piece in a selfie-obsessed society.

Then again Anna’s telling lyrics on ‘Searching’ (I’m looking for something else/Trying to transcend myself) or ‘The Code’ (He’s the world’s biggest story/The story of matriarchal glory/She bore him a child/This child she had to hide) are borne of a willingness of address subjects as varied as the search for individuality and the cryptic, mind bending backstory of The Da Vinci Code. ‘One Sweet Life’, with its heartbeat-like riff and pithy refrain (To do your thing/to sink or swim) has taken on great poignancy given the recent passing of featured guest Ty, and the sense of general vulnerability created by the onset of the covid-19 pandemic. This new meaning underlines the fact that Brotherly’s music now stands as an invaluable glue between a past of a more carefree state of mind and a present of universal angst. All the more reason to celebrate the second coming of a band and their music that has fully stood the test of time.

Kevin Le Gendre (author of Don’t Stop The Carnival: Black Music In Britain Volume 1)

1. System 07:04

2. Put It Out (feat. ESKA) 05:49

3. Raindown (feat. Kaidi Tatham) 06:21

4. World In A World (feat. Jason Rebello)

5. Requiem 05:32

6. Skin Deep 04:15

7. Hiding Behind Your Lies 03:26

8. Spin Down 04:43

9. Shame 03:26

10. Searching 07:14

11. A Little Trouble 07:37

12. Breather 02:23

13. The Code 05:47

14. Navigator 04:12

15. DTs (feat. Donny McCaslin) 06:26

16. One Sweet Life (feat. Ty) 02:37


Anna Stubbs - vocals

Rob Mullarkey - beats, bass, guitars, rhodes, synths, vocals, percussion


Ty - vocals

Eska Mtungwasi - vocals

Jeff Williams - Live at London Jazz Festival: Road Tales (Whirlwind Recordings)

Ohio native Jeff Williams cut his teeth playing with the likes of Stan Getz and Dave Liebman in the febrile atmosphere of 1970s New York, but London is now his second home and his free-ranging creativity both as drummer and as composer, coupled with his dedication as a teacher and bearer of the tradition, has embedded him deep into the UK scene.

This recording features an all-star cast of his longtime collaborators, with altoist John O’Gallagher and Josh Arcoleo on tenor making a ferocious twin-horn frontline and virtuoso bassist Sam Lasserson completing the rhythm section. With all the compelling immediacy of a live concert recording, 'Road Tales' documents how the shared experiences of being a band on the road for a decade or so has shaped a musical narrative, as each member tells the story of those experiences, and shows how they established their own identity within the compositions.

“Some of thesees go back many years, but I think what’s special here is the way that band works together, adding things that aren’t on the paper. So many things were completely unplanned - it’s pure interaction, the sound of a band taking risks together.”

Williams’ compositions give his band a wonderfully diverse span of moods and colours to work with, and they rise to each occasion magnificently. ‘New And Old’ written to mark his father’s passing, is pitched halfway between elegy and nursery rhyme, while ‘The Interloper’ has a Monkish feeling to its quirkily phrased melody and ‘Borderline’ has a carefree major-key uplift, like a free- wheeling calypso or Mexican hat dance. ‘Oddity’ has switchback tempo changes with a burning solo from O’Gallagher, and ‘She Can’t Be A Spy’ spins a tale of mystery with Arcoleo quoting Shorter over a classic Blue Note lope. ‘Under The Radar’, ‘Search Me’ and ‘Scrunge’ run together to form what Williams laughingly refers to as ‘the airport security suite’, moving from a spacious airy feel into a twisted funk that builds into an exhilarating rollercoaster ride of uptempo blowing that’s at once free and deeply melodic.

Bassist Lasserson shows his deep musicality on ‘She Can’t Be A Spy’ – “Sam is quite a unique player - to me he’s on a very high level as a musician - he’s so inventive and his ability to take a composition and find so many ways to play it is incredible.”

'Road Tales', his sixth release for Whirlwind, marks the latest stage on a continuous musical journey for Williams and his musical partners. “I love to have a band that is able to take chances – It’s wonderful the way this group can develop my compositions, with their ability to take things as far as possible without going over the cliff. There aren't many actual on-going bands in jazz anymore. The fact that this is one is something I'm proud of. That's the only way a performance of this type becomes possible.”


1. New and Old 13:37

2. The Interloper 06:28

3. Borderline 08:53

4. Oddity 06:46

5. Under the Radar 04:48

6. Scrunge 04:31

7. Search Me 02:53

8. She Can't Be a Spy 06:45

9. Double Life 08:09


Jeff Williams - drums

John O'Gallagher - alto saxophone

Josh Arcoleo - tenor saxophone

Sam Lasserson - double bass

Will Vinson / Antonio Sanchez / Gilad Hekselman - Trio Grande (Whirlwind Recordings)

Trio Grande is the debut statement from a brand new project that unites three of the most inventive, exciting and accomplished musicians working at the interface of New York’s contemporary musical culture, where the city’s rich tradition of jazz meets crosscurrents blowing in from across the world. British-born saxophonist Will Vinson, Israeli guitarist Gilad Hekselman and Mexico City native, longtime Jackson Heights, Queens resident Antonio Sánchez first came together at one of the city’s legendary club residencies at the Cornelia Street Café, and the chemistry and excitement was immediate. Each brings their own formidable reputation as bandleader and composer in their own right, but when they started playing together, following their impulses with all the freedom afforded by the bassless trio format, they found the music taking on its own creative directions that surprised and delighted them all.

Says Vinson: ‘We’re all grounded in jazz but all of us are also looking for other sounds and influences to bring in: that’s what we have in common, and what sets us apart is that all our sounds and influences are so different!’. The album’s magic lies in the way that so many disparate musical elements are woven together to create such a coherent whole. ‘Northbound’, driven along by its powerfully insistent low-end guitar riff, and ‘Gocta’, with its array of vast, epic soundscapes, were written by Sanchez and reflect his virtuosity and ability to deliver the power and excitement of rock music within a sophisticated musical framework. The uplifting, joyously dancing ‘Elli Yeled Tov’, with its echoes of carnival, reflects Hekselman’s love of song forms, whether pop or folk derived, and showcases the way that he can incorporate the most complex rhythmic ideas and make them sound simple and direct.

His haunting ballad ‘Will You Let It?’ shows his total commitment to melody, while the lowdown sophistifunk of ‘Scoville’ is both an opportunity to flex his guitar chops and a homage to the guitar master. Vinson’s ‘Oberkampf’ is a broodingly atmospheric piece, brought into focus by contrasting but equally melodic solos from guitar and saxophone, demonstrating the ease with which the players can move in and out of the frontline and swap roles at a moment’s notice. ‘Upside’, another Vinson original, maintains an elegant, insouciant swing, while Sanchez’s ‘Firenze’ develops from an equally poised cool into a frenetic coda: both tracks allow the trio to blow freely over a closely written structure in classic jazz style, yet their vision is so unified and complete that each tune develops organically, without either sounding like a generic head-and-solos piece. Texture and dynamics are as important as melody and improvisation, all brilliantly captured by engineer Mike Marciano’s warm, crystal clear studio sound.

The music will be available on CD / DL and Limited Edition 180g Double LP with gatefold artwork. The LP contains three bonus tracks: an original by Vinson, a loving deconstruction of John Lennon’s ‘Jealous Guy’ and a reverent reading of ‘Silence’ by Charlie Haden. The selection of tracks shows the scope of the trio’s no-limits influences and underlines the spirit of openness and unity of purpose that defines this remarkable collaboration.

1. Northbound 06:48
2. Elli Yeled Tov 04:07
3. Oberkampf 07:36
4. Upside 05:46
5. Scoville 08:06
6. Gocta 09:01
7. Firenze 09:23
8. Will You Let It 06:08

Will Vinson - saxophones & keyboards
Gilad Hekselman - guitars
Antonio Sanchez - drums

Patrick Cornelius - Acadia: Way of the Cairns (Whirlwind Recordings)

Over the course of eighteen years living in New York City, Patrick Cornelius has earned a substantial reputation as a saxophonist, composer, solo artist and educator, and created an impressive body of work comprised of nine albums as a leader, featuring some of the finest musicians from the global jazz and improvised music scene. Now for his latest release Way of the Cairns he reunites a ‘TransAtlantic Collective’ of like-minded musicians for a brand new project of original compositions. Fourteen years ago, Cornelius and bassist (and Whirlwind label boss) Michael Janisch teamed up with Luxembourgish drummer Paul Wiltgen and virtuoso Estonian pianist Kristjan Randalu for a tour that turned into a band that turned into a recording project that delivered, in Cornelius’ own words, “some of the best musical experiences I’ve ever had”. 

This new music takes inspiration from his experiences of hiking with his growing family among the untamed wilderness of Maine’s Acadia National Park. The band delivers an outstanding set of first and second-take performances that combine the heat of New York’s jazz scene with the depth and subtlety of the European jazz tradition to create a set of recordings that are accessible and melodic, but as powerful and compelling as the landscapes that inspired them.

The album takes the listener on a journey through a set of inspiring scenes. ‘Way of the Cairns’ describes the ascent of Great Head Mountain, through texture and tempo changes and a strong bass/sax unison melody. ‘Star Party’ commemorates a beachside star-gazing session with a lyrical piano feature for Randalu. The insistent, subtly shifting groove and intricate melody of ’Blueberry Mountain’ evoke a sense of tumbling, childlike excitement, contrasting with the radiant, gently lilting calm of ‘Seawall Sunrise’. ‘Darkest Night’ has a feature for Janisch’s powerful, clearly articulated bass, and ‘On The Precipice’ hands the reins to Wiltgen for a thrilling drum break, both pieces articulating the ominous quality that can be revealed when travelling across the wilderness.

‘Valse Héstitante’ was written by Randalu, with a limpid clarity that reaches out of the European classical tradition, spiced with some unpredictable metric shifts, while ‘Personal Beehives’ is a very American piece of twisty swing after the tradition of Konitz and Tristano. The album closer, ‘Ten Years Later’ was written by Wiltgen: the stately, measured melody returns us to the tale of the band and their journey towards reunion.

Though Cornelius is leader and principal writer, Way of the Cairns is very much the sound of a collective - “My idea was to feature the band as the lead voice, rather than myself. There’s a definite chemistry here - not super-straight ahead but not avant-garde either - embracing the European aesthetic, but with the ability to swing hard as well - that’s the unique magic of this band.” The inspiration from Cornelius’ favourite landscapes that underlies the compositions, combined with the special rapport between the players, gives the album a powerful, highly characterful unity that makes this a stand-out release.

1. Way of the Cairns 06:23
2. Star Party 06:56
3. Blueberry Mountain 03:38
4. Seawall Sunrise 06:44
5. Darkest Night 06:25
6. Valse Hésitante 05:04
7. Personal Beehives 04:43
8. On the Precipice 04:54
9. Ten Years Later 04:23

Patrick Cornelius - alto saxophone
Kristjan Randalu - piano
Michael Janisch - double bass
Paul Wiltgen - drums

Rick Simpson - Everything All Of The Time: Kid A Revisited (Whirlwind Recordings)

Rick Simpson’s impeccable technique and restless imagination have earned him a place at the forefront of contemporary UK music. He’s equally at home exploring the tradition or pushing fearlessly against the boundaries, and now his unique creative voice is back in the spotlight with a typically idiosyncratic project: a re-framing of Radiohead’s Kid A album, featuring ten original arrangements of the source material played by an all-star band of like-minded musical mavericks.

Whirlwind recording artist Tori Freestone joins James Allsop to form the twin-saxophone frontline, and Simpson is joined in the rhythm section by by the universally respected veteran Dave Whitford on bass and upcoming young hotshot Will Glaser on drums.

The project was created to mark the 20th anniversary of the original album’s release, as part of a series of sell-out shows curated by Simpson at London’s Vortex club featuring non-jazz records rearranged with an improvisational focus. The original show was such a success, drawing in listeners from beyond the club’s regular audience, that Simpson re-assembled the band in the studio and recorded the entire album in a single afternoon session “I think the time pressure contributed to the performances. It’s really punchy and to the point, but a lot happens – it captures the energy so well”. There’s a wealth of detail to discover, and surprises at every turn.

'Everything In Its Right Place’ sets the scene, with the horns framing a beautifully constructed solo from Simpson, leading into the hushed piano intro of ‘Kid A’ that builds and builds towards a dramatic finale of controlled chaos. ‘The National Anthem’s’ fractured groove coalesces around a powerful bass figure, spontaneously created by Whitford: “Dave earths the whole thing, with his beautiful, massive amazing sound.” ‘How to Disappear Completely’ shimmers with banks of violins, ‘Treefingers’ is an oasis of stillness, and ‘Optimistic’ pulls the listener forward with its impetuous rhythmic rush. ‘In Limbo’ has a typically unique statement from Freestone, and ‘Idioteque’ allows Allsop to unleash his fearsome baritone sax: “Tori – she’s so free: she goes for it and doesn’t hold back, and she never plays any clichés. Her and James are such an amazing pairing – his baritone playing is some of the most dark, vibey playing I’ve ever heard.” ‘Morning Bell’ features a prodigious solo from drummer Will Glaser – “Will is such a complete musician: he completely understands the right thing to do in any situation. He’s a little demon.” ‘Motion Picture Soundtrack’ ends the journey with a hushed, contemplative ballad reading.

Simpson’s imaginative, free-flowing arrangements give his superb band space to unleash their own individual voices. Sometimes sticking closely to the original melodies, sometimes re-purposing elements as the jumping-off point for radically new explorations, he leads his creative cohort to create a thrillingly uncategorizable musical experience. This record takes the listener on a journey through an ever-changing landscape of powerfully emotive moods and textures, while still preserving the concise, focused energy and emotional directness of the original.

1. Everything In Its Right Place 02:51
2. Kid A 04:40
3. The National Anthem 03:49
4. How To Disappear Completely 05:59
5. Treefingers 03:22
6. Optimistic 04:26
7. In Limbo 04:52
8. Idioteque 03:41
9. Morning Bell 05:37
10. Motion Picture Soundtrack 03:20

Rick Simpson - piano/arrangements
Tori Freestone - tenor saxophone & violin (track 4)
James Allsopp - baritone saxophone
Dave Whitford - double bass
Will Glaser - drums
All tracks composed by Radiohead
Arranged by Rick Simpson

Josephine Davies - How Can We Wake? (Whirlwind Recordings)

Josephine Davies continues to assert her unique presence across the crowded landscape of international jazz with the latest release from the acclaimed trio project that she has been developing since 2016 under the name of Satori. This latest iteration reunites her with two of the UK’s most uncategorisable talents: both Dave Whitford on bass and James Maddren on drums combine a fearsome level of accomplishment with a fearless appetite for improvisation that makes them the perfect partners in this venture.

‘Satori’ is a Buddhist word meaning a moment of presence and inner spaciousness away from the clutter of thought, and this recording captures a particular moment of presence as the band perform a suite of pieces, poised in the space between composition and the mindful spontaneity of collective improvisation, before a rapt audience at the Oxford Tavern in Kentish Town. Taking the writings of the Indian sage Patanjali as an inspiration, Davies created the pieces for How Can We Wake? as sets of melodic and rhythmic parameters for the trio to explore in the heat of the present moment.  “What happens between us in the trio is more and more based on group collaborative improvisation: the tunes are more wanting to reflect different states of being rather than specific set musical ideas.

Dave and James are such incredibly creative musicians, and that’s taught me as a composer to realise that less can be more - they’ve both got such strong individual sounds. James has so many different voices and creates a constant movement around me as I play, and Dave has an amazing deep, grounded bass sound. They are magical!”  On this remarkable recording Satori combine forces to create an inner space filled with melody, rhythmic freedom and empathetic interplay.

Each movement explores one of Patanjalis’ definitions of states of being, encompassing both positive and negative moods to reflect how “we all swing between these different states. It’s why I wanted to record live, so all the pieces could relate to each other as we moved from one to the next.’  ’Ananda’ is the state of bliss - ‘I was feeling very calm and positive which is quite unusual for me as I can be a bit hectic!” It segues into ‘Duhkha - Pervasive Dissatisfaction’ expressed through a thrillingly dynamic solo exploration for Maddren at the drumkit.

Next, ‘Nirodha - the possibility of liberation’ has a yearning melody beautifully realised by the dialogue between Whitford’s deep, woody bass and Davies’  warm-toned tenor sax. ‘Mudita’ has a joyously irreverent melody inspired by Ornette Coleman’s Golden Circle trios – “I love that rawness and freedom” - that develops into an extended blow with everyone free to take the piece in whatever direction they want. ‘Daya’ is inspired by the essence of compassion, with a sinuous thread of plaintive soprano writhing over resonant bass, and segues into the powerful, impetuous groove of ‘Klesha - affliction’ - as the trio work from turbulence towards a final statement of positivity, and a spontaneous reprise of ‘Ananda - Bliss’. 

How Can We Wake is the first line of a poem written by Davies’ mother and has a particular resonance under current conditions, unforeseen when the album was conceived and written but now demanding an extra wakefulness from us all. “Being fully awake and alive and facing ourselves and our responsibilities might be something that we are forced into, so we can’t go back to sleep”. The powerful combination of fearless free improvisation and melodic empathy from these gifted players creates a powerful and timely statement.

1. Ananda: bliss 04:47
2. Sutra 1 02:22
3. Duhkha: pervasive dissatisfaction 07:32
4. Sutra 2 01:37
5. Nirodha: the possibility of liberation 05:26
6. Mudita: joy 08:56
7. Daya: compassion 05:23
8. Sutra 3 01:44
9. Klesha: affliction 08:42
10. Ananda: bliss (reprise) 03:24

Josephine Davies - tenor and soprano saxophones
James Maddren - drums
Dave Whitford - double bass

Orlando le Fleming - Romantic Funk: The Unfamiliar (Whirlwind Recordings)

"Outstanding” is an overused description but one that’s applied to bassist Orlando le Fleming so consistently that its justification can’t be denied. Since relocating from his native UK to New York City he’s thrived in the world’s toughest jazz environment, and brought his inimitable personality to work on projects for the likes of Branford Marsalis, Joey Calderazzo, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Bill Charlap, Billy Cobham, Wayne Krantz, Ari Hoenig, Seamus Blake, Jeff “Tain” Watts and David Sanchez among many others.

“As a leader he shines even brighter - his drumless OWL Trio in particular gained plaudits across the board for its hushed, intimate atmosphere. Now he’s back with a completely different conception: his latest release Romantic Funk: The Unfamiliar introduces us to a new sound, a tribute to the muscular, high-intensity fusion of the 1980s, and a new band, Romantic Funk. Le Fleming has assembled an awesome team of top flight players: with Philip Dizack on trumpet and Will Vinson on sax in the frontline, Sean Wayland on keys and drummers Kush Abadey and Nate Wood rounding out the powerhouse rhythm section. All the compositions are by le Fleming, developed over time at the band’s extended residency in Greenwich Village’s 55 Bar, and captured live in the studio.

The power and precision of the performances astonishes throughout. Says le Fleming: “In under two days in the studio, this album was all played live, with very few edits and overdubs. The musicians are of such high quality that the risk taking paid off; for me, the inexpressible magic of the group and moment in time was captured."

Le Fleming’s tunes showcase his band’s individual excellence and group cohesion. ‘I’ll Tell You What It Is Later’ is influenced by the Miles Davis albums of the 80’s and late 60’s. It uses a simple form with minimal chords and open unrestricted solo section, giving Philip Dizack space to shine. “Phil is a very intuitive, musical player. His choices always seem to make so much sense.” ‘Waynes’ is inspired by le Fleming’s two favourite Waynes - Shorter and Krantz alternating excitingly between tension and release. Lauded multi-instrumentalist Nate Wood’s drums drive the triplet-laden groove of ‘The Myth of Progress’ and return to thrilling effect on ‘FOMO Blues’ - “Nate’s pocket and language are exceptional, but it’s his all round musicality which isso impressive.”

In contrast to the groove-heavy material, ‘Struggle Session’ floats in an effortless rubato over Abadey’s creative percussion “Kush is a rare find. A wonderful, sensitive jazz drummer who understands the aesthetics of swing but can also groove and improvise in rock and funk.” ‘More Melancholy’ features an improvised intro from Wayland, and a stunning statement from Vinson - “I love Sean’s other- worldly note choices and the sounds he builds on his synths. His beautiful free intros are much better, less predictable and more personal than any I could have written. Will’s lyrical saxophone is sublime on this album.

Every solo he plays is thoughtful, expressive and captures the mood of the moment.” ‘Mischievous’ is a pure blowing vehicle with an unexpected time change “We really stretch this one out live, and this version captures that feeling”. Closing track ‘The Inexpressible’ features acoustic bass and another outstanding Wayland improvisation to set up a slow, spiritual groove dedicated to le Fleming’s family.

“When writing this album, I was very conscious of the improvisational sections being tailored for the specific musicians, allowing them freedom to express their quirks. I encouraged risk taking and tried to make it fun for them without being too much of a control freak. It’s very much a cohesive band, as we workshopped this material at the 55 bar over the last year. The ‘Romantic’ in Romantic Funk is more in line with romantic ideals such as the indefinable, unbounded, inexpressible, unfamiliar.” To which we might add - Outstanding.

1. I'll Tell You What It Is Later 05:37
2. Waynes 05:40
3. The Myth of Progress 06:10
4. Struggle Session 03:54
5. FOMO Blues 04:02
6. More Melancholy 05:07
7. Mischievous 04:43
8. The Inexpressible 05:59

Philip Dizack - trumpet (all tracks except 6)
Will Vinson - alto sax
Sean Wayland - keys/synths
Orlando le Fleming - upright and electric bass
Kush Abadey - drums (except tracks 3 & 5)
Nate Wood - drums (tracks 3 & 5)

Rez Abbasi - Django​-​shift (Whirlwind Recordings)

Rez Abbasi has established an enviable reputation over the course of his fourteen album releases as leader: not simply as one of the finest guitarists of his generation, but also as a musical alchemist with the ability to parlay his continent-crossing range of influences into consistently fresh and innovative compositions and reframings of the tradition. His deep musicality has been applied with equal conviction to contemporary New York acoustic jazz, the Qawwali and Indian Classical traditions of South Asia and the heady fusion sounds of the 1970s, each time applying the filter of his own musical personality to deliver inimitable results. Commissioned to present a project on Django Reinhardt from the Freight & Salvage’s Django Festival in California, he boldly redefined his engagement by turning the focus away from Django, the codifier of the Sinti guitar vocabulary, and onto Django, the composer.

For Django-shift Abbasi keenly listened to Django’s full catalogue of music before choosing seven of his original pieces and two classic tunes that Django was greatly associated with. The arrangements were soon created for a contemporary trio format, with Neil Alexander on organ and electronics and Michael Sarin on drums. The results give a fascinating and original insight into an often overlooked attribute of Django’s genius.

Abbasi has kept Djangos’ melodies intact and then infused each piece with his own compositional voice, adding elements of metric and harmonic expansion and allowing his collaborators room to add their own personalities to the mix. “Neil tells a story when he improvises – he has a storehouse of musical knowledge but never just plays licks, which has always been central in my own approach to improvising. I’ve been playing with Michael for 25 years and he remains one of my favourite drummers. Both are very creative in how they sustain yet depart from various musical traditions, which is what it’s all about for me. I live that!”

‘Diminishing’ is couched in a 6/8 feel and viewed through the lens of Abbasi’s profound engagement with another great jazz composer, Thelonious Monk. “When I was working on Django-shift I was also immersed in Robin Kelley’s book on Thelonious Monk. It influenced me in surprising ways and I started hearing connections in their compositions. There’s a joy and bounce within both their styles so I approached arranging a few of Django’s tunes with Monk in mind.” For ‘Swing 42’ Abbasi created an opaque bass line in a 7 beat cycle as a counterpoint to the more direct melody before positioning the band towards a freer section for the solos, climaxing in a rhythmic contraction inspired by Carnatic music.

‘Heavy Artillery’ has a folk-like chordal guitar intro before moving into the solid blues-tinged main theme, while ‘Django’s Castle’ is enlivened by altered harmony and the characterful voices of Abbasi’s otherworldly fretless guitar playing and Alexander’s scintillating synth solo. ‘Anniversary Song’ was a favourite of Django’s, here re-presented with a very contemporary breakdown and a natural-sounding odd-meter groove: “I wanted to capture the forward momentum of classic swing, but not with a straight four-to-the-floor feel.” 

The band delivers ‘Cavalerie’ with a deceptively simple mid-tempo reading, though Abbasi adds his own personality through subtle rhythmic and harmonic extensions, while the normally up-tempo ‘Douce Ambience’ unfolds beautifully as a newly arranged ballad. ‘Hungaria’ expresses the playful nature of the band’s approach with camouflaged metrical shifts and rousing, joyful solo trades and an impressive feature for Sarin. To conclude, Kurt Weill’s ‘September Song’ is transformed into a textural duo on fretless guitar and organ with the subtlest of rubatos for a memorable sign-off.

By radically recontextualising the compositions, Abbasi has taken his own journey towards the essence of Django’s music. “One of the stronger feelings I get from Django’s music is euphoria, and I resonate deeply with that, but equally enjoy the darker phenomena of music – both sides of the coin! I didn’t realize how prolific a composer Django was until working on this recording because the focus had always been on his heroic playing. I hope Django-shift introduces this aspect of his genius to a broader audience that may have also been hypnotized by his playing.” These unique interpretations, alive with imaginative compositional interpolations and inspired improvisations, reframe this timeless music for the modern age.

1. Diminishing 05:07
2. Swing 42 05:32
3. Heavy Artillery 05:26
4. Django's Castle 06:03
5. Anniversary Song 07:20
6. Cavalerie 06:51
7. Douce Ambiance 04:13
8. Hungaria 04:04
9. September Song 03:56

Rez Abbasi - fretted and fretless acoustic guitars
Neil Alexander - organ, electronics and synthesizers
Michael Sarin - drums

Quinsin Nachoff - Pivotal Arc (Whirlwind Recordings)

Saxophonist and composer Quinsin Nachoff’s career to date has delivered a boundary-crossing body of work that’s consistently unpredictable, fearlessly innovative, breathtakingly accomplished, and full of creative passion, constantly increasing its scope to encompass ever greater horizons. His new album Pivotal Arc presents his most ambitious project yet: bringing together virtuoso violin soloist Nathalie Bonin with a jazz-inflected unit comprising two established giants of the NY scene, bassist Mark Helias and drummer Satoshi Takeishi, and the stunning young vibraphone player Michael Davidson, and adding a wind and string ensemble conducted by JC Sanford for a concerto that boldly mixes written and improvised sections. A contemporary string quartet performed by the renowned Molinari String Quartet and the extended title piece round out the album. 

The result is three diverse long-form works that flow naturally together, demonstrating Nachoff’s equally heartfelt facility with the free-flowing language of jazz improvisation, the depth and rigour of classical composition and the direct melodicism of folk forms.

The three-part violin concerto is built around Nachoff’s long-standing creative partnership with Nathalie Bonin and showcases her extraordinary range and versatility. “Nathalie’s drive is very intense, her musical interests are really diverse, and she dives into whatever challenge and works at it until she masters it!”

The first movement is an imaginary deconstructed and reconstructed Tango that sets the tone, intensity and sound palette for the entire work. After the improvised violin solo, the orchestra ferociously returns with nearly a concerto for orchestra section that gradually winds down to a dream-like cadenza, setting up the second movement. “I love Astor Piazolla and I’d heard Nathalie improvise brilliantly in that setting - Stravinsky also looms large and Weill and Ligeti were very inspiring as well, but the tango was the main focus, twisted and deconstructed in different ways”

The second movement is a haunting ballad that sweeps through several tonal landscapes “Where Berg meets Ellington!”.

A gorgeous improvised violin solo leads into both a written and improvised cadenza that connects to the final movement. It is Balkan-infused and showcases the violinist's virtuosic range and rhythmic strength.

The String Quartet represents some of Nachoff’s most intricate writing to date, allowing him to explore his deep attachment to the tradition and his engagement with contemporary iterations. “I like to keep up with what’s happening now in quartet writing and this gave me the opportunity to explore some of those ideas – pitch axis, using quarter tones, etc., but still keeping a jazz influence because that’s a large part of my background”

Each of the four movements is a miniature concerto for each member of the quartet. The first movement features Violin II, the probing second movement showcases the Viola, the vacillating third movement is for the Cello and the intense final movement is for Violin I. “It felt like it was improvised, it had this really alive, vibrant feeling to it that is a testament to the Molinari’s exceptional work as an ensemble”

The final, titular piece, ‘Pivotal Arc’ is Nachoff’s extended reflection on the critical position we currently find ourselves regarding climate change. It features opening and closing solos from bassist Mark Helias, inspired contributions throughout from Michael Davidson, a call and response solo section between the orchestra and drummer Satoshi Takeishi and an improvisation section moving through a variety of moods for Nachoff’s tenor saxophone. “Mark is so accomplished and so individual, always able to add an element of surprise in any setting! Satoshi is similarly unique: he adds so much energy and always sees the big picture. Michael was phenomenal on both the improvisations and the written sections and JC Sanford was essential to realize the project and get the blend right"

With a sonic palette that ranges across the spectrum from Strayhorn and Mancini to Bartok and Berg, this is a stunningly original set of pieces that will cement Nachoff's reputation as a major cross-genre musical force.

1. Violin Concerto - Movement I 16:00
2. Violin Concerto - Movement II 10:42
3. Violin Concerto - Movement III 19:09
4. String Quartet - Movement I 04:34
5. String Quartet - Movement II 03:17
6. String Quartet - Movement III 03:31
7. String Quartet - Movement IV 04:59
8. Pivotal Arc 15:01

Nathalie Bonin - violin soloist

Molinari String Quartet:
Olga Ranzenhofer - violin I
Antoine Bareil - violin II
Frédéric Lambert - viola
Pierre - Alain Bouvrette - cello

Quinsin Nachoff - tenor saxophone

JC Sanford - conductor 
Michael Davidson - vibraphone
Mark Helias - bass
Satoshi Takeishi - drums, percussion
Jean-Pierre Zanella - piccolo, flute, clarinet, soprano sax
Yvan Belleau - clarinet, tenor saxophone
Brent Besner - bass clarinet
Jocelyn Couture - trumpet I
Bill Mahar - trumpet II
David Grott - trombone
Bob Ellis - bass trombone

Rudresh Mahanthappa - Hero Trio (Whirlwind Recordings)

Over the course of an illustrious twenty-five-year career Rudresh Mahanthappa’s music making has constantly pushed at the artistic boundaries to encompass such diverse influences as classic bebop, the flash and fury of electric fusion, and the complexities of Carnatic music, while always maintaining a clear sense of his own fiercely intelligent, uncompromising musical personality.

On 'Hero Trio', his sixteenth release as a leader/co-leader, he has moved the focus away from his own compositions to pay tribute to his greatest influences with an album of interpretations. All of the material is presented in Mahanthappa’s characteristically original arrangements, and to approach them with the greatest degree of freedom and spontaneity he chose to record in trio format, enlisting the talents of long-time associates François Moutin on bass and Rudy Royston on drums.

Their effortless collective virtuosity, and the perfect attunement of their musical thinking honed over two decades of playing together, makes this album an outstanding addition to the genre. “Playing chordless trio, you’re very exposed but you also have a degree of freedom that’s very special. There’s also a great history of piano trios that have a beautiful way of functioning like a single organism, and I wanted to capture that energy. I wrote the arrangements, and when we came together to rehearse I didn’t have to reorganise a thing. I felt like within ten minutes we were ready to make an album.”
His role as Director of Jazz at Princeton stimulated Mahanthappa to conduct a deep exploration of the standard repertoire, and this in turn led him to focus in on the diverse individual tunes that have helped shape his own career. Charlie Parker’s ‘Red Cross’ was one of the first Parker tunes Mahanthappa ever learnt, and appealed to him for its humour, an often overlooked component of Parker’s genius. The trio give it a thorough reworking. “It’s been interesting for me to take things apart - we play the melody divided into three different sections that are really three different moods, but it felt really natural at the same time.” ‘Overjoyed’ is an arrangement of the Stevie Wonder classic by Danilo Perez, with whom Mahanthappa has played in duo format - “Just an awesome tune in any way shape or form. Danilo’s arrangement goes through different meters and complex harmony but still flows beautifully: Francois has the ability to suggest all kinds of harmony even without a piano being present and I took full advantage of that.”

Mahanthappa wanted to acknowledge that his path would not have been possible without both Charlie Parker and John Coltrane, and he boldly combines their compositions in ‘Barbados/26-2’, emphasising the unifying strength of the melodies and the ingenuity of his arranger’s touch. By contrast, in live performance the trio have developed a strategy where the three of them create a spontaneously improvised groove for Mahanthappa to take in any direction he chooses - 'I Can’t Get Started' replicates that approach to powerful effect, showcasing how his sophisticated rhythmic conception can accommodate his love for Sonny Rollins and Benny Carter without compromise. ‘The Windup’ is from Keith Jarret’s ‘Belonging’, one of Mahanthappa’s favourite ever albums – “A ridiculously awesome album. I also liked the challenge of recording Jarrett with a pianoless group - if you can do that, then you can do anything.”

June Carter Cash wrote ‘Ring of Fire’ for her husband Johnny, and the tune connects Mahanthappa with his Colorado childhood. "Like Dolly Parton, when you take a closer look at what they did compositionally you realise that it has a conversational flow, with odd length phrases and extra bars here and there, and I wanted to capture that freedom." Reinvigorated jam session favourite ‘I’ll Remember April’ is inspired in part by the majestic version on Lee Konitz’s ‘Motion’ album, but Mahanthappa and the trio stamp their own idiosyncratic personalities onto this stunningly original performance. ‘Sadness’ explores the legacy of Ornette Coleman’s mid-sixties trio with David Izenzon and Charles Moffett - “The sonic landscape the three musicians created is pretty amazing - we wanted to explore those textures.” Mahanthappa wanted to include some lesser known Parker tunes and ‘Dewey Square’ was a last-minute spontaneous addition in the studio that provided a perfect bookend for the album.

Hero Trio is both a striking statement of Mahanthappa's own unique vision, and a tribute to his musical inspirations. “I have always wanted to record in the powerful yet intimate trio format. It would be an incomplete venture without somehow celebrating the quintessential saxophone trio work of Sonny Rollins, Lee Konitz, and Ornette Coleman. Outside of the jazz world, I first saw both Johnny Cash and Stevie Wonder on Sesame Street as a child and have always found their work to be beautiful, humorous, pensive, and utterly joyful. They have played such a strong role in helping me to look beyond the illusory boundaries of genre towards seeing music as a magical force that binds humanity. With this album, we seek to endorse and spread that message widely.”

1. Red Cross 06:29
2. Overjoyed 06:42
3. Barbados - 26/2 06:40
4. I Can't Get Started 05:30
5. The Windup 04:42
6. Ring Of Fire 03:56 video
7. I'll Remember April 05:45
8. Sadness 03:07
9. Dewey Square 02:42

Rudresh Mahanthappa - alto saxophone
François Moutin - acoustic bass
Rudy Royston - drums

Michael Olatuja - Lagos Pepper Soup (Whirlwind Recordings)

Michael Olatuja’s musical development has taken place across three continents, in the heart of three of the world’s greatest cities. After a childhood in Lagos absorbing the Yoruba culture of his Nigerian family, followed by teenage years performing and studying on the booming London jazz scene, Michael’s talent bloomed when he arrived in New York to study at the Manhattan School of Music. His unique breadth of talent, grounded in the strong musical traditions of his homeland, has earned him first-call status across a range of genres from pop to gospel to Broadway to top-flight jazz, and along the way he’s filled his contacts book with a impressive and eclectic range of talent.

For 'Lagos Pepper Soup', his second solo release, Michael picked a core band of Terreon Gully, Aaron Parks and Etienne Stadwijk, and then enlisted the talents of Angelique Kidjo, Dianne Reeves, Regina Carter, Joe Lovano, Laura Mvula, Lionel Loueke, Grégoire Maret, Becca Stevens, Brandee Younger, Robert Mitchell, Onaje Jefferson, and top studio arrangers David Metzger, Joseph Joubert and Jason Michael Webb to realise his vision of what he calls Cinematic Afrobeat - “What you hear is a blend of three major cities: it’s a celebration of life, and I wanted to make it sound like a soundtrack for a movie that hasn’t been made yet - maybe the next Black Panther movie.”

The title track is a summary of what it’s about - the band lay down a cooking intercontinental groove over which Angelique Kidjo delivers a stunning vocal performance: “All these guests are people I’ve worked with, who inspire me and who I consider friends. Angelique has been one of my heroes for many years and working with her was a dream come true. She blew it out the water.”

‘Hero’s Journey’ is the most cinematic track of the album, a through-composed piece inspired by his late Mother Comfort Bola Olatuja, who provided Michael’s first musical inspiration. Top Disney orchestrator David Metzger (Frozen, Ice Age, Lion King and countless others) provided the epic orchestrations and Regina Carter’s improvisation soars over the strings and vocals. ‘Soki’, meaning ‘Soon’ is a Pan-African mix of influences from Mali, Senegal and Nigeria and features Dianne Reeves singing in Yoruba “Man, She did her homework! She put her heart and soul into it.”

Brandee Younger contributes harp to the acoustic textures of ‘Ma Foya’ - “She’s NYC’s premier harp player! We get along like a house on fire - she joked about being left off my album so I got her in and the results were magical.” ‘Brighter Day’ reunites Michael with Laura Mvula and his old London buddy Troy Miller, who he played with in Soweto Kinch’s band, for a typically heartfelt, idiosyncratic piece of pop music.

UK pianist Robert Mitchell was one of Michael’s mentors when he was a 16-year old budding professional. Becca Stevens is the perfect interpreter for the complex sophistication of his composition ‘Home True’. Bola Olatuja is Michael’s mother and ‘Bola’s Song’ is his tribute to her, with Grégoire Maret’s harmonica tracing the melody as the song moves from minor to major in Joubert’s lush arrangement.

‘Leye’s Dance’ is based on the Fuji style from Lagos: Joe Lovano recalls his time playing and hanging with Fela Kuti at The Shrine in this inspired Afrojazz blend. 'Shadows Fade’ is a ballad beautifully sung by Onaje Jefferson - “It’s about being where you need when going through difficult seasons.”

Lionel Loueke contributes the joyous ‘Mivakpola’ “He’s like a big brother to me. We like to have Lagos pepper soup together whenever he’s in town.” ‘Grace’ is an expression of Michael’s faith, but written without lyrics. “All the guests poured their heart and soul into this album, as though it were their own. I feel that grace has been shown to me throughout.”

Michael has integrated all of his diverse musical influences, incorporating his guests’ talents while allowing his own personality to clearly shape the overall direction. His own virtuoso melodic bass playing shines throughout - “I wanted Lagos Pepper Soup to feature my own playing, as well as songwriting and production - all my influences are here, all my favourite musicians, and I feel there’s an element of divine favour in how amazingly it’s turned out."


1. Even Now Prayer 01:00

2. Lagos Pepper Soup (ft. Angelique Kidjo & Lionel Loueke) 04:43 video

3. The Hero’s Journey (feat. Regina Carter) 08:42

4. Soki (feat. Dianne Reeves & Lionel Loueke) 04:27

5. Ma Foya (feat. Brandee Younger) 03:23

6. Brighter Day (feat. Laura Mvula) 05:58

7. Shadows Fade (feat. Onaje Jefferson) 06:32

8. Home True (feat. Becca Stevens & Robert Mitchell) 06:28

9. Bola’s Song (feat. Grégoire Maret) 04:16

10. Mivakpola (feat. Lionel Loueke) 04:22

11. Leye’s Dance (feat. Joe Lovano) 07:07

12. Grace 05:51


Michael Olatuja - producer, arranger, composer (except 8,10), electric bass, synth bass (1), percussion (5)

Aaron Parks - piano (2, 3, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12)

Etienne Stadwijk - keyboards (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 11)

Terreon Gully - drums (except 5, 6)

Troy Miller - drums (6)

Magatte Sow - Percussion (2,3, 4, 6, 9,11)

Femi Temowo - guitar (6)

Herve Sambe - guitar (11)

Michael Aarons - guitar (12)

Camille Thurman - voice (9,12)

Thana Alexa - voice (3)

Ayanna George - backing vocals (2,3,4)

Cassondra James - backing vocals (2,3,4)

Rasul A-Salaam - backing vocals (2,3,4)

Samir Zarif - Tenor and soprano saxophone (8,10,12)

Alicia Olatuja - Vocal Arrangement (4)

'Lagos Pepper Soup' String Orchestra (3,4,6,7, 9)

Joseph Joubert - Orchestra Conductor (3,4,6,7, 9)

and Orchestration (6 & 7)

David Metzger - Orchestration (2)

Jason Michael Webb - Orchestration (4)

Jon Cowherd - Orchestration (9)


Featured Artists:


Angelique Kidjo - voice (2)

Dianne Reeves - voice (4)

Laura Mvula - voice (6)

Becca Stevens - voice (8)

Regina Carter - violin (3)

Lionel Loueke - guitar (2, 4, 10)

Joe Lovano - sax (11)

Robert Mitchell - piano (8)

Onaje Jefferson - voice (7)

Brandee Younger - harp (5)

Grégoire Maret - harmonica (9)